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Vow of Volition Make the Final Round of the Battle for Warped Tour

The Vans Warped Tour was the first festival for many of us back in the day. As young'ns, it's likely we didn't necessarily think about all that went into figuring out the bands to book and play the whole shebang. Part of that process, at least locally, seems to be through a series "battle of the bands" style competitions specifically for landing a spot on the fest. Quite a few Portland bands have been furiously playing against one another for said spot, and djent/prog metal act Vow of Volition are one of the acts that made it to the finals.

Warped Tour was always the type of festival that included much in the realm of pop punk, punk punk, emo and metal, so Vow of Volition's advancement to the final round is no surprise. Their incredibly technical, at times jazzy metal stands out in Portland's pretty linear popular music scene, and is much worthy of the attention its getting.

Those that want to support Vow of Volition in driving home the permanent spot can go to the Battle for Warped Tour finals Saturday at the Hawthorne Theatre.





Hot Tracks/Hot Takes: Dahl Haus in the house with 3 new singles

Over the past several months Brooklyn-based duo Dahl Haus has been on a new-single-per-month hot streak, and speaking of “hot” this column is the first in a series of DELI columns called Hot Tracks/Hot Takes where we’ll be focusing on recent singles (or heck maybe even a full EP occasionally) sharing off-the-cuff-yet-penetrating-insights and random associations and total speculations related to the song, or songs, in question. 

Got it? No? Good! Because the whole concept is as nebulous as “Silhouettes and Alibis.”

Dahl Haus are self-described creators of “noisy, dreamy music that's Kool Aid, Pop Rocks & razor blades mixed in a psychedelic blender & served in a dirty glass” and first thing I wanna know is where to find one of these psychedelic blenders. (but, please y'all, wash your glasses!) Next thing I’d like to know is “who’s in the band?” and turns out it’s singer/songwriter/producer/bass guitarist/rhythm guitarist Blaise Dahl and lead guitarist Daniel Kasshu aka Mevius. A couple fun facts from Ms. Dahl’s extensive resume: 1) she’s served as touring bassist for Jennie Vee (herself a bassist!) which means that Ms. Dahl is only two steps removed from Courtney Love (not a bassist!) since Ms. Vee toured with Ms. Love during her joint tour with Lana Del Rey (many of LDR's songs feature bass!); 2) As a teenager, Blaise admirable served on two MTV-sponsored outreach programs—one promoting an anti-bullying platform and the other an anti-bias initiative. Again, very admirable, but thankfully she wasn’t picked to play “Laura” in the commercial below because looks like it may have been pretty traumatizing even for a fictionalized portrayal.

Song #1: “Silhouettes & Alibis” (Release date: 9/17/21) — Forgive my obvious ‘90s bias here but the first couple minutes of S&A hit me like the Throwing Muses/Slowdive/PJ Harvey mashup (Stories From The City, Stories From The Sea era on the latter) I never knew I needed so naturally that’s a good thing. But then a little over halfway through the song suddenly turns a corner and walks right into a wall of stone, stopping short on a next-to-last-sounding-note, before getting all dizzy-headed with an extended outro that opens with a strummed guitar floating in space and then a haunted funhouse organ before a drum fill bursts the song open like an overripe piece of fruit with layers of guitar and emotive lead vocals and ghostly backup singers entering the picture (or at least they sound like ghostly backup singers) before, again unexpectedly, concluding with a “jazz hands” style guitar chord. Hot-cha-cha-cha!

Key lyric: “I built a prison of my own / in solitary walls of stone”

Song #2: “Helium” (Release date: October 1, 2021) — Dahl Haus is a band unafraid to deploy its full array of flange pedals plus all their chorus and reverb and digital delay and overdrive and tremolo/pan pedals and maybe even some wah-wah when it’s called for. This one is the woozy drunk-in-love song of the bunch—think Cocteau Twins meets Bloodwitch and you’re on thew right track—and thus it works well as the sweet gooey marshmallow cream sandwiched between the other two singles plus it’s got a highly melodic and (it sounds like) heavily chorused bass part which also contributes to the weightless, woozy vibe.

Key lyric: “Surrender to the sweet delirium / Your love's like helium / Helium / Gravity's undone”

Song #3: Dreamscape” (Release date: November 19, 2021) — This is the seduction song but a song that warns against being seduced at the same time where “tangled sheets can tie you to this space” (thanks for the warning!) and just when it seems to be about over "Dreamscape" suddenly transforms from a shimmering dreamscape into a woken-with-a-jolt raveup in the vein of a surf or spy movie soundtrack right after the line “who knows if love is real?” (these kids got a talent for sudden transitions!) which makes you realize the whole dreamscape scenario was maybe a bit of a bait and switch when you’re left “looking for salvation / from daylight's rude awakening” which is exactly why you’re advised to buy black-out curtains before listening to this song.

Key lyric: “I charmed you like a snake in the grass”

Look for more hot tracks and more hot takes coming soon! (Jason Lee)





Edith Pop turns the lights on in "Tokyo" reinvention

With her penchant for dark-hued chanteuse pop torchery, glammy haute couture makeovery, and primitive protozoan punk rockery, I’d find it believable if you told me that Edith Pop was birthed from a test tube combining strands of DNA stored over the years from Edith Piaf, Edith Head, and Iggy Pop (yes, the latter is technically still alive, but clearly his DNA was donated to rock ’n’ roll science long ago and replaced by strands of barbed wire) thus inspiring the stage name of Edith “Edith” Pop.

Or not. But I’m sticking with my theory given how Edith Pop combines the theatricality and musical properties of pop, glam, and punk in her musical persona—not to mention borrowing Iggy Pop’s famous incorporation of foodstuffs on stage (I recently witnessed Ms. Pop prepare a steaming pot of vegetable soup at a live show, chopping the vegetables, boiling them in a hot pot, and ladling out the product to her audience all the while performing songs on stage.





Then again it’s easy to make such wild conjectures given how Edith Pop has deliberately erased much of her digital history outside a few recent musical collaborations (more info below) and a few older scraps left behind from when “Edith Pop” was a band (more info below) all culminating in the Sneaker-Pimps-meets-Shirley-Manson musical renewal of “Tokyo” (a song about losing oneself, and reinventing oneself, in a hotel room/womb far away). But hey luckily I scored a phone interview with our leading lady. So keep reading to get the inside scoop from the artist herself right after the DELI exclusive video below—a Cindy Sherman-esque photo montage capturing the Many Moods of Ms. Pop...........

 

On her musical roots and the invention of the Edith Pop persona:

EP: Music saved my life and helped shape my entire personality, starting with my dad who was a musician. And then when I got into punk rock I finally found something that spoke to my anger and dissatisfaction with suburban experience growing up upstate. That’s what moved me and made me want to make music of my own which I did in a hardcore band called Pandha Pirahna.

Then I got really into glam music—classic stuff like T.Rex and the New York Dolls, the music plus the decadence and excess and theatricality that was part of the genre. A lot of the Edith Pop alter-ego came out of that—but in the guise of a debaucherous, excess-driven teenage girl. Someone obsessed with themselves and consuming everything from media to drugs to boys. 

On the unmaking and remaking of Edith Pop:

EP: At first “Edith Pop” was this personality where I could express myself in new ways and go to places I couldn’t or wouldn’t before in my music and live shows. (editor's note: live shows described in one previous press profile as “cathartic” musical exorcisms of a “teenage alter ego” in which Edith could be found “seduc[ing] her audience by sprawling on the floor, mounting the mic pole, and other such provocations.”) I started a band, also called Edith Pop, with my best friend who was already on the indie scene, and we developed a following and got some press. The turning point was when I sold a song to Steve Madden. At that point it’d all gotten wrapped up in this corporate-driven brand-driven influencer thing, and I lost track of the art in it and the whole reason I wanted to make music in the first place.

This persona I’d created was kind of destroying my personal relationships. It all shifted—I realized it was out of control. When I first started making music, things weren’t so brand and influencer driven. When you’re pushed to put out content all the time, and to be networking all the time, it keeps you from making a meaningful connection to your art or to the people around you. I got fed up and took everything I’d created offline and out of circulation. (editor’s note: This is a great summation of the social media age: the conflict of content vs. art; online networking vs. IRL connection. Plus it sounds like Edith Pop has a good episode of Behind the Music in the works that is if the show still existed and were updated for the Internet Age.)  

On creating Edith Pop 2.0 and “Tokyo”:

EP: I finally realized this project could be anything I wanted it to be. Like David Bowie, I could remake Edith Pop at whim. Like if I wanna make a nearly hour long experimental track that’s based around an episode of Magic’s Greatest Secrets, because I’ve been binging the show on Netflix, that lines up with the episode perfectly as an alternative soundtrack, I’ll do it.

With “Tokyo” I had this mental image of being in a big, tinted-glass hotel room way up in the sky. In a sleek, clean, hyperreal space, dreaming about video games at night. The song itself was birthed all at once and unexpectedly. It started when I met this guy at a party in LA, and we connected immediately as fellow New Yorker. His name’s J. Randy and once we got to talking music he said “I’m at this great studio right now, you should come through. I’m gonna lay down a track with my friend Dae One who’s a producer who’s worked with some well-known names in hip hop.”

I went to the studio and it was all tied to something called the M.O.B. Collective which stands for Music Over Business so that’s perfect. Their mission is to bring together emerging artists with established artists. I went into this beautiful studio and immediately started working on the track, and it all came together from scratch in just a couple hours, and it perfectly captures the mental image I had in mind.

On working with producer-songwriter-multi-instrumentalist Meviu§ and on the future:

EP: The other few tracks I’ve got available to the public right now are collaborations with Meviu§. (editor’s note: previously profiled in The DELI!) They’re all on Spotify. I got to know Daniel (aka Meviu§) when he was tour manager for another band I was in called A Place Both Wonderful and Strange. He’s really open-minded and creative, and he eventually started playing with us and did a remix of one of our songs. So when we stopped playing live we decided to start making tracks together and our collaboration grew from there. We have a song coming out soon called “Ghost (remix)” which is a remix of a song where the original’s never been released!

EP: I’m going to keep remixing Edith Pop. Literally. It’s a new phase. Edith Pop is like a character that now exists outside of a specific time who rejects modernity. She lives outside set timelines or set expectations, even my own. (Jason Lee)





The Exorzist III cast out the demon of holiday malaise with new EP

With the “Holiday Seasonal Affective Disorder Season” now officially upon us no doubt you’ll be needing some down ’n’ dirty ear-shattering brain-pounding skull-scraping consciousness-obliterating rock ’n’ roll to help purge the memory of your Alcoholic Uncle trying to convert you to QAnon and to help with digesting all that leftover cold turkey. But without going cold turkey of course because you’ll wanna down a couple belts of single-barrel bourbon before cranking up Gospel Jamming vol. 1, which is the new rekkid by the avant-punk-freejazz-skronk-jam-band-minus-the-noodle-dancing-power-trio known as The Exorzist III, a rekkid that’ll stuff your skull full of a pulverizing wall of sound that’ll block the ability to mentally process anything other than the glorious cacophony entering your earholes. (just scroll over the graphic directly below to listen).

The Exorzist III is a power trio in its purest form that dispenses with unnecessary frivolities such as having a singer, focusing instead on rhythmically-and-sonically-intense explorations like the 15-minute opening track "Jabber" with its layers of ever-shifting polyrhythms and heavily fuzzed out bass (Von Finger) and alternately-plinky-and-oceanic electric guitar (Drew St. Ivany) all anchored to a triple-time ostinato until it finally climaxes with an all-out tsunami of sound that sees drummer Nick Ferrante riding the crash cymbal like John Bonham suffering from a panic attack and it’s maybe something like the music John Coltrane would've made if he’d lived and continued down the path of Interstellar Space but traded his sax for an ax and switched over to playing heavy metal sometime in the '70s and after all Trane was raised on gospel music so maybe that accounts for the EP’s title.

And then…it just ends. A pattern that holds true for all four songs on Gospel Jamming vol. 1 because clearly The Exorzist III can't be bothered to write actual endings and no doubt fadeouts are far too gauche so instead they just stop playing whenever they damn well feel like it including on the final track “EVK” which simply lifts the needle off the record and not even on a downbeat. Harsh! It’s somewhat equivalent to a horror movie “jump scare” or maybe more like its polar opposite, but jarring either way, which is maybe how they came up with the name The Exorzist III (besides the power trio factor natch) which savvy readers may notice is only one letter removed from The Exorcist III (1990, dir. William Peter Blatty) a movie that some say has the greatest jump scare in horror history (my vote is for the ending of Carrie but it’s a close call) not to mention the movie features both Fabio and Patrick Ewing in cameo roles playing angels (!) so why it’s not taught in film schools alongside Citizen Kane I can’t explain. 

There’s a certain horror soundtrack aesthetic at work elsewhere on the record too. Like on “Coffer” which starts off with a short looped segment of suspense-type music before adding a high-BPM-hardcore-punk beat with the ominous loop still going on underneath and then adding a dissonant guitar that sounds like rusted car pistons grinding metal-on-metal and a throbbing plodding baseline and it's like the music you'd expect to hear if you were being being chased by The Tall Man from the Phantasm movie series about a creepy elderly mortician who torments his victims with a custom-designed oversized pachinko ball that flies through the air chasing you down long empty corridors until it catches up to your ass and these little blades or drills or circular saws pop out and thrust right into your forehead or eye socket or lower back for chrissakes which is a pretty impressively random way to kill a person so give The Tall Man credit for never doing things the easy way and neither does The Exorzist III and oh yeah he’s the guy on the cover of Gospel Jamming vol. 1 so that’s pretty cool. (Jason Lee)

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